India captain backs misfiring Yuvraj Singh, says he needs a little time to settle his nerves
For the second time in as many games, Amit Mishra walked away with the Man of the Match award. On Friday against Pakistan, Mishra had taken 2 for 22 on his comeback to Twenty20 International cricket. On Sunday (March 23) night at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium, he followed it up with 2 for 18 in another display of high-quality leg-spin and googly bowling at the ICC World Twenty20 2014, keeping West Indies down to 129 for 7 and helping set up India’s seven-wicket romp.
Mishra had had to wait 45 months between his first and second T20Is, a difficult period during which, he had said on Fridaynight, Mahendra Singh Dhoni had kept his spirits up. Asked what exactly he had told his leggie, Dhoni said on Sunday, “I said play. It is important that people bowl or bat according to what their strength is. I personally felt he was feeling a bit of nerves in the first game against Pakistan. I went up to him and told him, you are known for turning the ball. You are someone who flights the ball, varies the pace and you have variations. So just don’t keep bowling the straighter one or try to bowl back of a length so that the batsman cannot hit.
“I told him your bigger strength will be to flight the ball and use that extra bit of flight in deceiving the batsman. I was really comfortable the way he bowled after that and after the first game, which was the Pakistan game, I knew he was still not bowling at his 100%. He still had nerves to overcome. I knew with the Man of the Match (award) and with that good performance, his performances in the coming games will get better and better. And today also, he bowled really well. He bowled well against (Chris) Gayle, used his variations well. There will be odd games where, like some of the other bowlers, he may also get hit but it is still important he backs his strength and his strength will always be using the flight and using the variations he has got.”
Dhoni was also effusive in his praise of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the new-ball bowler who bowled his first three overs for just three runs. “What is important for him is to use the new ball well and make sure he does not give too many loose deliveries,” said Dhoni. “The batsmen have to go after him to play the big shot. That will be like a winner for him and today, there was a bit of help and he made sure he was bowling in the right areas. That is how he will contribute throughout; whenever there is a bit of help, he should make sure he is bowling in the right areas. Especially in this game, I thought he bowled brilliantly. His length was very crucial and he was able to swing the ball. That is why I thought it would be a good option to use the first three overs off him because it seemed as if he would take that one wicket and that would have really changed the game at that point of time.”
One of India’s proven problem areas has been their bowling, so to keep two quality opponents in Pakistan and West Indies down to 130 and 129 respectively was something Dhoni took great delight in. “As far as the bowling is concerned, I am really happy to see how the spinners are bowling. Yes, there is a bit of help for them but at the same time, you have to execute your plans well, especially in this format,” he reasoned. “You have got some of the big hitters in the opposition that you will have to carefully plan against and innovate at times. I was really happy that our spinners so far, along with the part-timers and the fast bowlers, have done really well. But there is a long way to go in this tournament, we have two more matches at least in the qualifying stage.”
Yuvraj Singh has had a disappointing tournament so far, being dismissed for 1 in the first game and taking 19 balls in making 10 on Sunday, thereby thwarting India’s bid for a quicker victory with an eye on the net run-rate. “It was both hoping for a higher net run-rate and giving him some time in the middle,” explained Dhoni. “I am glad he got a bit of time because it will only settle his nerves. We all know how dangerous he can be; once he gets going, he will give many more victories. It was a fair enough chance. If we could have increased the net run-rate a bit, it would have been good but still we have couple of games and we should try to make the most of them. If Yuvi comes back into form, if he bats really well, he is a good asset to have a No. 4.
“If you see, Yuvraj is the best player in T20s. Right now, he is not in that good a rhythm. It is a bit tough, he has been dropped from ODIs and is coming back in T20s, there is a bit of pressure on the individual. You can say it is a short format and you can go in and express yourself but when an individual comes into the team, there is some pressure on him. It takes one-two matches but we are only hoping if he gets a good flow, a good game, we all know the kind of match-winner he is and he can really turn the game around on his own.”